William Walter Yothers (1879-1971)
U.S. Department of Agriculture Bureau Entomology
Citrus Pest Whitefly
Orlando Citrus Pest Laboratory
Mite Control Programs
Mediterranean Fruit Fly
Chase & Company
Fort Pierce Citrus Growers Association
Plymouth Citrus Growers
Florida Citrus Exchange
William Walter Yothers was born in Ashton, Illinois, on September 15, 1879. In 1903, Yothers graduated from the University of Idaho with an Agricultural Bachelor of Science degree. During his final three years of study at the University of Idaho, Yothers served as the district horticultural inspector for northern Idaho. Yothers also eventually received an A.B. degree in agriculture from Cornell University.
In 1904 Yothers began working with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Entomology. He continued this work until his retirement in 1935. One of Yothers’s first assignments was to study the cotton boll weevil in Texas and determine methods to control the pest.
By 1907 he was sent to Orlando to work at a newly-established USDA research laboratory, where he studied the citrus pest whitefly. In 1910 Yothers was named the Entomologist in Charge of the Orlando citrus pest laboratory. Holding this position until his retirement 25 years later, Yothers produced some of the most important research on citrus insects. Among his many contributions were his 1915 article that first outlined mite control programs for Florida citrus, the use of oil to control scale insects and the use of sulphur to control rust mites.
Yothers married Ada Bumby in 1917. In 1926, Yothers was sent to Honolulu by the USDA to research the Mediterranean fruit fly, which was threatening the Florida citrus industry. Yothers developed a sterilization process that stopped the growth of fruit fly larvae before fruit could be damaged.
In 1935 Yothers retired from his position with the USDA. Yothers then began working as a citrus consultant for several organizations such as Chase & Company, Fosgate Growers, and the Fort Pierce Citrus Growers Association.
Yothers was known as a generous person who gave his time to Florida growers in order to help educate them to recognize and treat citrus pests. His service in this capacity was eagerly solicited by many growers.
In 1965 he was honored by the Florida Entomological Society when he was given the annual Honors Award in acknowledgement of his contributions to entomology in Florida. Yothers and ten others chartered the Florida Entomological Society in 1916. Yothers also served as the president of that society in 1927.
Yothers was a grower-member of the Plymouth Citrus Growers and served on its board of directors. He served as a director of the Florida Citrus Exchange as well as an officer and honorary member of the Florida State Horticultural Society. Yothers was also a member of the Central Florida Cornell Alumni Association.